Karen Samantha Barton

May 11, 2022

Africa’s Joola Shipwreck

Causes and Consequences of a Humanitarian Disaster

Lexington Books 2020

In 2002, a government-owned Senegalese ferry named the Joola capsized in a storm off the coast of The Gambia in a tragedy that killed 1,863 people and left 64 survivors, only one of them female. The Joola caused more human suffering than the Titanic yet no scholarly research to date has explored the political and environmental conditions in which this African crisis occurred. 

Africa’s Joola Shipwreck: Causes and Consequences of a Humanitarian Disaster (Lexington Books, 2020) investigates the roots of the Joola shipwreck and its consequences for Senegalese people, particularly those living in the rural south. Using three summers of field research in Senegal, Karen Samantha Barton unravels the geographical forces such as migration, colonial cartographies, and geographies of the sea that led to this humanitarian disaster and defined its aftermath. Barton shows how the Sufi tenet of "beautiful optimism" shaped community resilience in the wake of the shipwreck, despite the repercussions the event had on Senegalese society and space.

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Ari Barbalat holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of California in Los Angeles. He lives in Toronto with his family.

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